The White House “blocked” multiple media outlets Friday from participating in a press gaggle.
Press gaggles are usually off-camera opportunities for White House press pool reporters to ask questions of press secretary Sean Spicer.
White House press gaggles are separate from the on-camera White House press briefings.
A number of mainstream outlets that have been aggressive in their coverage of President Donald Trump were reportedly not allowed to attend. The “blocked” outlets included CNN, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and Politico.
The Associated Press and Time reportedly boycotted the gaggle after their journalist colleagues were not allowed to participate.
— Katie Hinman (@khinman) February 24, 2017
Trump administration spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the “there is a limited amount of room in Sean [Spicer]’s office and we wanted to do an informal gaggle. No precedent here. The pool was included so that everyone could get info,” USA Today reported.
Jeff Mason, president of the White House Correspondents Association, issued a statement, encouraging reporters able to attend to share information with their colleagues who were not there.
The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how today's gaggle is being handled by the White House. We … https://t.co/e6JkOOlwzQ
— WHCA (@whca) February 24, 2017
CNN called the development “unacceptable.”
“Apparently, this is how they retaliate when you report facts they don’t like. We’ll keep reporting regardless,” a CNN statement read.
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) February 24, 2017
Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, said in a statement:
Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties. We strongly protest the exclusion of The New York Times and the other news organizations. Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest.
Fox News’ Bret Baier came to the defense of his journalist colleagues on Twitter, saying “Some at CNN & NYT stood w/FOX News when the Obama admin attacked us & tried 2 exclude us-a WH gaggle should be open to all credentialed orgs.”
Some at CNN & NYT stood w/FOX News when the Obama admin attacked us & tried 2 exclude us-a WH gaggle should be open to all credentialed orgs https://t.co/8Vjcs0KCPR
— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) February 24, 2017
Earlier Friday, Trump delivered a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he railed against the “fake news” media as an “enemy of the American people.”
Trump specifically called out CNN and the New York Times as “fake news” in a Feb. 17 tweet, along with the three major broadcast networks, NBC, ABC and CBS.